Before you bake, make a template for piping your macaron shells. Draw 2½- inch circles on a large sheet of paper, using a compass or tracing around a cookie cutter or a small glass. Space the circles 1 inch apart. Position this pattern on your baking sheet, then place parchment paper on top of it. After piping your shells, carefully pull out the pattern to use on the next baking sheet.
Adapted from Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the Macaron Cafe by Cecile Cannone, Ulysses Press 2011©. Photo HARA Partners, Inc.
- 2¾ cups (8.8 ounces/250 grams) almond flour
- 2¾ cups (12.4 ounces/350 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 cup egg whites (from 7 or 8 eggs), at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons powdered egg whites, if weather is humid
- ¾ cup (5.3 ounces/150 grams) superfine granulated sugar
- 5 to 7 drops gel paste food coloring (optional)
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor to make a fine powder (or sift together, discarding any large crumbs and adding a bit more almond flour and powdered sugar as needed to compensate), then sift the mixture through a strainer until it’s as fine as you can get it. This keeps crumbs from forming on the macaron tops as they bake.
- With the wire whip attachment on the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt and the powdered egg whites (if you’re using them), starting slowly and then increasing speed as the whites start to rise. Add the granulated sugar and the food coloring. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and your meringue is firm and shiny.
- Pour the beaten egg whites onto your almond-flour mixture and gently fold them in, using a rubber spatula. Move your spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the edges with one hand, using your other hand to rotate the bowl. Now hit the spatula against the rim of the bowl until the batter falls in a wide ribbon when you raise the spatula. When you can’t see any crumbs of almond flour and the mixture is shiny and flowing, you’re ready to start piping.
- Fit your pastry bag with a #8 tip and fill with batter. Start by squeezing out a small amount of mix onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to form a 2½-inch circle. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space between macarons so they will not touch each other while they bake.
- If the peak that forms on the top of the macaron does not disappear after piping, it means the batter could have been beaten a little more. To eliminate the peaks, tap the baking sheet on the tabletop, making sure to hold the parchment paper in place with your thumbs.
- Let the piped macarons rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F (325°F for a non-convection oven).
- Bake for 14 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, open the oven door briefly to let the steam out.
- Let the macarons cool completely on a rack before taking them off the parchment paper. Press the bottom of a cooled, baked macaron shell with your finger; it should be soft. If the bottom of the shell is hard, reduce the baking time for the rest of your macarons from 14 minutes to 13 minutes.
- The French have a special word—macaronner—to describe the physical action of mixing all the ingredients for macarons. This has to be done by hand. You cannot do it with your mixer—you must be able to feel the consistency of the macaron batter.
- Using a pastry bag requires some practice. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Prepare the bag (if it hasn’t been used before) by cutting about 2 inches off the narrow end—just enough so that when you insert a #8 decorating tip, about a third of the tip extends outside the bag. Push the tip firmly in place and spoon in your filling, leaving enough room at the top to twist the bag shut. It’s best to fill the bag with half of the batter at a time so it’s not too heavy. To make it easier to fill your pastry bag, place it upright in an empty jar or other straight-sided container. This will help steady the bag while you fill it with batter. Squeezing the bag slowly, pipe each macaron shell out in a single dollop. Lift the bag quickly to finish.